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Hands-on Gear Review
Asolo Jumla GV Review
Cons: Pricey, low water resistance
Bottom line: Our Top Pick for Scrambling is a lightweight hiking boot that combines durability with excellent traction for going vertical on rock.
Boot Type: Lightweight Hiker/Day Hiker
Waterproof Lining: Gore-Tex Performance Comfort
There is something about the Asolo Jumla GV that begs you to lace them up and head outside. We attribute this feeling largely to the activity these lightweight hikers are primed for — jumping, climbing, and dancing all over rocks. This pair was hands-down the best model in our review for traction on rocky surfaces. That, coupled with its lightweightedness and great durability, lead us to award the Jumla GV with our Top Pick for Scrambling. We're not sure if this is really a hiking boot with approach shoe qualities, or the other way around, but we don't care. We like it.
If you find yourself scrambling as much as you hike, take a long, good look at these hikers. This product tackles dry and wet rock like a champ, built for rocky approaches and moderate climbing. It edges, it smears, it could even take on easy cracks, all much better than its competitors in this review. We thoroughly enjoyed wearing these boots but also found that they are not the most versatile hiking boots, scoring below average in stability and water resistance. It also has room for improvement in terms of comfort. Somewhat of a specialty boot, we were psyched to have them underfoot.
If you're seeking a more well-rounded lightweight hiker ingrained with serious comfort, check out our other Top Pick award winner, the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultra Hi WP. Or, for a midweight hiker that also sticks to rocks well, but provides better stability and water resistance, we'd recommend the Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid.
RELATED REVIEW: Best Hiking Boots for Men of 2018
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Asolo Jumla GV, our Top Pick for Scrambling, is designed with technical, rocky approaches in mind. It certainly excels in this area, largely due to high surface area contact from its outsole and sticky rubber material, as well as a substantial rubber rand. It also scored well in our durability and weight metrics, while sinking to the middle of the pack in relative stability and water resistance. Costing $250, it is one of the most expensive boots included in this review.
Putting on the Jumla GV, you'll be quick to notice that it doesn't have the cushy padding found inside many other models of hiking boots, such as the HOKA ONE ONE models. This product feels stiffer and harder, with just a thin insert separating your foot from the rigid midsole. Unlike the Salewa Mountain Trainer GTX, this stiffness didn't knock its comfort off the map, though. We certainly welcomed this stiffness when stepping on pointed and uneven rocks, which we could barely feel and kept our feet from tiring quickly. We also found the soft ankle collar to be comfortable over miles of terrain.
If you like this boot, but wish it provided more comfort for the soles of your feet, consider purchasing a thicker after-market insert.
This product from Asolo is one of the narrower pairs of the 12 boots in this review, and as they don't come in wide sizes, we recommend our wide-footed friends to try them on before ordering. As you can probably assume, there isn't much wiggle room for your toes, either. We actually found the fit to be suitable to its designed purpose; it wraps around your foot similar to a climbing shoe for better climbing potential. If you're not used to this feeling, it could take some getting used to before you accept it. The lacing system goes all the way down to the toes with six lower, one middle, and two upper eyelets, allowing you to tighten this model to a very streamline, precise fit. If you like a tighter fits like this in your hiking boots, the Columbia North Plains II hugs your feet at a much lower price than the Jumla GV.
The Gore-Tex waterproof liner provided acceptable breathability. There aren't many vents in the upper of the Asolo, but the thin layer of suede leather kept our feet from heating up too much. When hiking in 75°F, sunny weather, our feet didn't become overly sweaty.
Being one of the shortest and narrowest boots in this review, the Jumla GV didn't blow anyone off the trail in this metric. That said, its tight fit and Asoflex 00 MR lasting board helped make up for its "short"-comings. It has the most torsional rigidity of any of the lightweight models we tested, which is partly what created its great climbing potential. When edging on thin ledges, this rigid construction really made a positive difference. The Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX and Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX scored the highest in stability.
This product clearly outperformed the rest of the pack in climbing and smearing, as well as hiking up steep, dry rock. It also stuck well on wet rock, tying with the HOKA ONE ONE model for best traction across slick river rocks. The sticky Vibram Friction outsole consists of 125+ mini lugs of varying size, shape, and depth (all being relatively shallow). This design allows for a serious amount of surface area contact for maximum sticking to rocks. The rubber rand that runs from the start of the forefoot on the inner side to the heel of the outer boot provides additional grip when you find yourself scrambling through cracks.
As expected, these shallow lugs didn't perform well at all in mud, and getting up scree fields with such a narrow forefoot proved quite challenging. However, due to its tight construction and snug lacing system, barely any sediment was able to enter inside the boot after multiple laps up and down thick scree. In essence, the Jumla GV can handle hard, compact surfaces with superior purchase, but struggles when the earth underneath is unstable. For a lightweight model with better traction in mud and scree, we recommend the Vasque Inhaler II GTX.
Weighing just 2.43 lbs, this Asolo model is the fourth-lightest boot we reviewed, and landed in the middle of the pack amongst the lightweight hikers. We were happy to find this pair so light, considering its very stiff midsole, long rubber rand, and solid upper construction.
In comparison, the Lowa Tiago GTX Mid weighs just a hair more, but offers improved stability and water resistance. If weight is of supreme importance, though, the North Plains II are the lightest we tested.
The Jumla GV measured only 4.5 inches from the bottom of the outsole to the top of its waterproof membrane, making it the second-lowest flood level in this review (the North Plains II had the lowest). Not made for wading upstream, the waterproof membrane did hold up perfectly well during our 5-minute test on the edge of Lake Tahoe.
The suede upper also did a great job of resisting water absorption, but this will lessen over time. The Bora2 Mid can handle 2 more inches of water than the Jumla GV, if you need a boot that resists water better and still climbs relatively well.
Applying leather conditioner, such as Nikwax Waterproofing Wax, on a regular basis to the upper will greatly help this pair of boots maintain its resistance to water absorption.
This boot is surprisingly durable. As it is made for use in rough, rocky terrain, we used and abused the Jumla GV throughout the testing period on a variety of rock types, as well as scree fields, lake edges, dirt trails, and more. At the end of the testing period, these puppies still looked new, minus a few scuff marks on the midsole. Impressive. It earned the highest durability score of all lightweight models we tested.
We did see a few places for potential durability issues down the road. The upper consists of four pieces of suede leather sewn together, creating a considerable amount of seams. That said, each seam is double-stitched and shows no sign of breaking down after 3 months. Also, in our experience with sticky rubber, it has a tendency to break down faster than non-sticky outsoles. We don't expect this outsole to last as long as other models, such as the Merrell Capra Venture Mid GTX or the St. Elias GTX.
The Jumla GV is best used in situations where you will be climbing just as much as you are hiking. Its rigid construction and sticky, high traction outsole lend itself to edges, slabs, and any multitude of irregular rock shapes. It would also be the best boot we reviewed to take on via ferratas. If you have been looking for approach shoe-like performance with a taller collar for more ankle support and waterproofing, your search ends with this product.
At $250, this product is the second-most expensive boot we reviewed this year (yet still $100 behind the very pricey Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid). While we think it is valuable for adventure-seekers with intentions of using them in steep to vertical rock slabs and climbs, it isn't for everyone. If you're looking for a more all-around performing lightweight hiking boot, the Tor Summit Mid WP, KEEN Targhee II Mid, or Tiago are better options offering more value for a greater range of application.
We found ourselves frequently grabbing the Asolo Jumla GV to go out for afternoons scrambling through rock fields. As climbing is near and dear to the hearts of most gear testers at OutdoorGearLab, we were naturally fond of a hiking boot with such great climbing capabilities. While it didn't wow us with high scores in comfort, stability, or water resistance, we found it to be perfectly suited for its intended environment. We look forward to keeping this Top Pick award winner around for quite a while!
— Ross Robinson
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